You’re excited about your next Parisian vacation and eager to start packing. You open your closet, start sifting through the shelves and putting together possible outfits. And then it hits you, you have nothing to wear!
Easy. Shop in Paris, and draw inspiration from the unwitting locals. But if, like myself, you’re not planning on doing a total wardrobe overhaul, you may have to actually bring a few things with you. But what? Fret not — unless your go-to attire consists of Bermuda shorts and white tennis shoes (with socks), packing for Paris shouldn’t be too hard. Just take these points into consideration:
Le “Look” Parisien
Think unisex! I kid you not. Many joke that Parisian men and women dress alike. So leave your pink frilly lace bubble skirts and red sequined bustiers at home and, instead, pack:
- Jeans, preferably the skinny kind in black or dark washed denim. I like these high-waisted ones from Paige
- Oversize sweaters and t-shirts in neutral colors; think Zadig & Voltaire
- Knee-length skirts. Long ones that sweep the floor are boho cool (but watch for presents left by les chiens) and A-line miniskirts like this from Maje work best with opaque tights.
- A motorcycle leather jacket from Balenciaga, the ultimate in rocker chic
- A Trench coat from Zara, H&M or Sandro but I’m still a firm believer in Burberry
- Simple monochrome dresses (save the floral patterns for the spring and summer months)
Paris is a walking city, so you’ll definitely want to be comfortably heeled. There is some truth to the rumors though: you may be written off as tourist if you roam the streets in your workout shoes. If you’d rather roam anonymously, leave the sneakers at home, unless they’re neon, metallic, have hidden wedge heels or are otherwise somehow funky. A lot of Parisians wear flats (ballerines, boots and booties, loafers, brogues), but heels are commonplace everyday shoes as well.
Currently, ankle boots — wedged, studded or not (think Isabel Marant) — are all the rave. In summer, it’s all about gladiator sandals and espadrille wedges.
As far as stilettos, I’d say it depends. If you don’t mind getting your heel stuck in a cobblestone or subway grate, then go for it!
A tote? A shoulder bag? A messenger bag? Feel free to be whimsical, but keep it simple and logo-free. Exceptions are the sequined canvas Vanessa Bruno tote, which all Parisians seem to own, or a vintage Louis Vuitton monogrammed canvas purse.
My personal staples are the tote or the messenger bag. The latter helps keep my hands free while walking around Paris with my little daughter and taking pictures. A bigger tote or shoulder bag (that can be zipped shut) comes in handy for carrying my essentials and my daughter’s things, including some small shopping.
If you think you’ll miss your Hermès Kelly bag, bring it with you. It’s a Parisian staple, along with Chanel’s 2.55 flap bag with the “Mademoiselle” lock, for those who can afford it.
While Parisians tend to wear understated clothing (it’s really all about fabric and fit) you can go a little crazy with accessories. Top off your outfit with a fedora or beret. Why not? We’re in France, after all. Feeling cold? Wear a scarf. And while in Paris, you’ll learn how to tie it a dozen different ways.
Are your clothes too simple or bland? Wear a statement necklace or a bold cuff. You can also layer necklaces or bracelets. The trick is to mix fine, delicate pieces with bolder costume jewelry for an eclectic look. Thin, woven bracelets intertwined with gold/metal, diamonds/crystals and small charms are also very hip.
During the colder months, go crazy with tights!
Voilà! I hope this helps … wait, I almost forgot the ultimate must haves, an umbrella and a smile! Happy packing!
- The Huffington Post shares a few French fashion style tips
- BBC Travel shows us how to dress more like Parisians
- Want more fashion tips? Check out our previous posts on the subject
- You can find more fashion inspiration from the Parisian streets on Paris in Four Months